You may not know it, but most of the laughs in modern American comedy were being put together years ago between 22nd and 29th Streets in Manhattan. Many of the best comedy performers that you see across HBO, Netflix, and what’s left of broadcast television, not to mention the writers working with them, did at least some time in New York’s improv-comedy scene. The institutions that sustain those laughs, like everything else dependent on the nightly take, are mortally ill because of COVID-19.
Lots of great comedic actors were part of the Groundlings in Los Angeles, or of the Second City …
This article appears as “The Day the Laughter Died” in the May 18, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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